Ascent of Three Way Peak on 2016-07-01

Climber: Roger Gervin

Date:Friday, July 1, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Three Way Peak
    Elevation:6796 ft / 2071 m

Ascent Trip Report

Three Way Peak is roughly .75 miles north of Sourdough Gap. The Pacific Crest Trail traverses the SE side of the peak... 600 feet below the summit.

There is some speculation on how the peak got its unofficial name... (1) it sits at the head of three drainages (Crystal Creek, Elizabeth Creek and Morse Creek)... or (2) the east boundary of Mt. Rainier National Park touches the summit along with the boundary that separates Yakima County and Pierce County. Personally, I don't think either of the above theories have anything to do with how the peak got its name... and I'm curious if other folks might have a theory?

The short and sweet version of the trip... we started from the large parking area on the north side of Chinook Pass... hiked the PCT for two miles to Sheep Lake and continued on the PCT another mile up to Sourdough Gap... crossed over the Gap and continued on the PCT for another .75 miles where we left the trail... eventually found a route to Three Way's east ridge... then followed the ridge to the summit.

The only beta that we had for this scramble trip was two GPS tracks from and a brief description from the authors of "Guide to 100 Peaks in Mount Rainier N.P."... and all three of these sources chose a route that stays on the PCT until the trail is within 250 vertical feet of a saddle on Three Way's east ridge... where they left the PCT, scrambled up to the ridge (~6440') and followed the east ridge to the summit... and this is the route we chose to try.

The scramble up to the ridge went very smoothly... however, we could not find a comfortable way to deal with a large rock outcropping at the saddle... so we traced our steps back down 120 feet and started to traverse on loose scree in a westerly direction underneath very steep cliffs... where we eventually found what looked like a possible route that would get us above the cliffs and onto the east ridge.

BarbE, Snowdog and Izzy nominated me to see if the route would go... and sure enough, we made the route go... as we were able to use several veggie belays to help us get off of the loose scree and onto the east ridge (~6700')... where it became an easy ridge walk to within 50 vertical feet of the summit... leaving an easy Class 3 route to the top (6796').

8.4 miles roundtrip, gaining 2572 feet of elevation.

IMHO, getting up onto the east ridge was harder and more exposed than doing the last 50 feet of elevation gain to the summit.

Photos, trailhead directions and downloadable GPS track of our trip to Three Way Peak.

Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Roger Gervin
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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